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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book IV Chapter 8: The Institution of the Censorship.[443 BC]
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Whether there were tribunes this year, or whether they were replaced by consuls, there is no doubt that the following year the consuls were Marcus Geganius Macerinus and Titus Quinctius Capitolinus; the former consul for the second time, the latter for the fifth time. |
This year saw the beginning of the censorship, an office which, starting from small beginnings, grew to be of such importance that it had the regulation of the conduct and morals of Rome, the control of the senate and the equestrian order; the power of honouring and degrading was also in the hands of these magistrates; the legal rights connected with public places and private property, and the revenues of the Roman people, were under their absolute control. Its origin was due to the fact that no census had been taken of the people for many years, and it could no longer be postponed, whilst the consuls, with so many wars impending, did not feel at liberty to undertake the task. It was suggested in the senate that as the business would be a complicated and laborious one, not at all suitable for the consuls, a special magistrate was needed who should superintend the registrars and have the custody of the lists and assessment schedules and fix the valuation of property and the status of citizens at his discretion. Though the suggestion was not of great importance, the senate gladly adopted it, as it would add to the number of patrician magistrates in the State, and I think that they anticipated what actually happened, that the influence of those who held the office would soon enhance its authority and dignity. The tribunes, too, looking more at the need which certainly existed for such an office than at the lustre which would attend its administration, offered no opposition, lest they should appear to be raising troublesome difficulties even in small matters. The foremost men of the State declined the honour, so Papirius and Sempronius - about whose consulship doubts were entertained - were elected by the suffrages of the people to conduct the census. Their election to this magistracy made up for the incompleteness of their consulship. From the duties they had to discharge they were called Censors.